Sen. Collins to vote no on Graham-Cassidy bill, appearing to halt Obamacare repeal

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Susan Collins announced Monday afternoon that she will oppose the GOP's latest plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total number of public no votes to three and likely killing the last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare this week.

In a statement, the Maine Republican said the bill does not go far enough to protect people with pre-existing conditions and that the proposal's cuts to Medicaid are too steep.

"Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can't be done well in a compressed time frame, especially when the actual bill is a moving target," Collins said.

The bill would also "open the door for states to weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes."

The decision, while widely expected, deals what is almost certain to be a lethal blow to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's 11th-hour attempt to find 50 yes votes in his caucus.

Collins joins Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have said they will oppose the legislation. Sen. Ted Cruz also said he opposed the legislation as written.

Collins was one of three Republican senators to vote against an Obamacare repeal bill in July -- along with McCain and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- stopping the bill's passage on the Senate floor.

Her decision to again buck her own party comes the day after Republican leaders released a revised version Graham-Cassidy bill, written by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy.

The changes included boosts in funding for states such as Maine and Alaska, but did not address concerns that many have raised about the erosion of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Collins had foreshadowed her announcement on Sunday, saying she had a "very difficult" time envisioning a scenario in which she would support the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, but she was not definitive.

Collins announcement came after the Congressional Budget Office released a partial score Monday evening of the GOP's plan, saying the Graham-Cassidy bill would reduce the budget deficit by at least $133 billion, but millions would lose comprehensive coverage.

The nonpartisan scoring agency estimates that between 2017 and 2026, "the legislation would reduce the on-budget deficit by at least $133 billion and result in millions fewer people with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events."

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